April 6, 2017

Two forthcoming books to help make sense of Trump, Bannon, and Breitbart


Steve Bannon in the White House.

Yesterday, Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart and oft-supposed 3D chess master of the steadily imploding Trump administration, was relieved of his position on the National Security Council, given to him by Donald Trump accidentally last January.

The news arrived to some surprise. Given Bannon’s assumed (though hardly proven) mastery of the politiscape, as well as his apparent comfort in the dingy darkness of Trump’s shadow, it appeared the two were a perfectly nefarious match: Bannon the bad brains and bad idealism to Trump’s blank, shameless id.

While it is unclear what Bannon’s exact new role will be, one thing is clear: he’s not going anywhere quite yet. As a senior White House official told the New York TimesPeter Baker, this is not a setback for Bannon. Rather, it’s a “logical evolution” for him. It’s worth noting that Bannon still holds the highest level of White House security clearance.

So, shucks, then. But still, even if Bannon were to leave the White House for good, Breitbart, his hate-mongering, conspiracy-theorizing, pro-Trump web baby would still exist, as would the culture that supports it (which includes far-right trolls, center-right apologists, and Amazon). In the months leading up to and following Trump’s election, the website’s profile has grown exponentially, transitioning in the media mindset and public perception from extreme right fringe conspiracy hub to all-but-official organ of the Trump White House and the establishment right.

So, yeah, the far right is settling in. Breitbart writers are chomping at the bit for permanent press passes while legitimate news organizations get threatened daily. The website is conducting unbelievably awkward and incoherent Facebook live interviews with people like Sean Spicer. Amazon continues advertising with them. And it’s all being normalized at a very alarming rate.

All of this is very bad.

It’s a good thing, then, that there are books about Breitbart and the communities bolster it in the works.

As Buzzfeed News’s Steven Perlberg reports, Rosie Gray, the White House correspondent for the Atlantic, “has inked a deal with publishing giant HarperCollins for a book about the far-right news outlet, which hit its stride during the campaign as a key hyper-conservative voice boosting Donald Trump, according to five people familiar with the matter.” Gray, who has written critically about Breitbart before, reportedly received an advance of around $350,000.

Additionally, Politico’s Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman report that Josh Green, a national correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek who profiled Bannon in October 2015 (Title: “This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America”), is also working on a book. Published by Penguin, Green’s project “plans to tell the story of the rise of the disparate forces and the political and media figures who made Trump’s presidency happen.”  So, yeah, Breitbart will no doubt come up.

Neither of these books has a title or release date yet, but the sooner the better: we needed them yesterday.



Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.